Email marketing vs. social media: which is better?

Peer Sales Agency account manager holding up hands to compare email marketing and social media.

As a digital marketer, there’s a good chance you’re wondering where your money (and time and brilliant ideas) would be best spent — especially during times of uncertainty when everyone’s trying to do more with less.

Do you opt for email marketing, sending compelling messages and can’t-pass-it-up promotions to your audience’s inbox?

Do you choose social media marketing and grab their attention as they scroll?

Do you desperately want a single, clear-cut answer? We understand! But the truth is, it’s not that simple. The answer lies somewhere between the hard data and the unique needs of your specific audience.

But let’s start with the data.

As you’ve probably guessed, a lot of people have social media accounts. In 2022, more than 4.59 billion people around the world were using social media — a number projected to jump to about 6 billion in 2027.

“Even at the current average of 397 minutes per day, the typical global internet user still spends more than 40% of their waking life online.”

– Hootsuite
Amount of time people spend on social media each day

Source: Hootsuite

“Well, that settles it,” you might be thinking. “Social it is.”

Not so fast, because email remains an insanely popular and extremely vital means of communication too. As of 2022, the number of global email users was 4.258 billion — a number expected to grow to 4.48 billion users in 2023.

There are a lot of people on social media platforms, a lot of people using email, and it’s very fair to assume that the overlap between those two groups is significant. The strategic difference becomes clearer as we dig a little deeper into the numbers.

Email is for opt-ins.

According to OptinMonster, among people who use both email and social media, 60% claim that email is their preferred channel for promotions (compared to only 20% for social media), and email boasts a 6.05% conversion rate compared to just 1.9% for social media.

Email marketing also has clear and compelling ROI, providing a return of $44 for every $1 you spend. Social media, on the other hand, isn’t able to offer the same clear data — so that’s 4400% ROI compared to, well, who knows?

To add insult to … a lack of ROI data, social media has a pretty abysmal engagement rate at only 0.58%. Email, on the other hand, reaches 85% of the people you send it to, with an open rate of almost 23%.

But hold up! Don’t leave social media marketing behind.

While the numbers make it clear that email marketing is a highly effective way to secure click-throughs and conversions, you need to start with a well-curated list — and social media can help you get there. At Peer, we view social media marketing as a powerful tool you can use to meet your audiences where they are, acquire new leads, and build a high-quality email list.

Ultimately, social media marketing can foster valuable engagement and cultivate your audience, email marketing will get you click-throughs, and the two together can provide the balance you need for a strong campaign.

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Sara Hanlon

Sara Hanlon is the President and co-founder of Peer Sales Agency. At Peer, she guides clients with sales-focused strategies that unlock revenue and helps them scale. She’s happy to ideate and orchestrate, providing solutions that move the needle.


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